Health and Wellness
Schizophrenia is a chronic, severe, and disabling brain disorder that has affected people throughout history. Schizophrenia is a mental disorder that makes it hard to tell the difference between what is real and not real, think clearly, have normal emotional responses, act normally in social situations and other. People with the disorder may hear voices other people don't hear. They may believe other people are reading their minds, controlling their thoughts, or plotting to harm them. This can terrify people with the illness and make them withdrawn or extremely agitated. People with schizophrenia may not make sense when they talk. They may sit for hours without moving or talking. Sometimes people with schizophrenia seem perfectly fine until they talk about what they are really thinking.
The symptoms of schizophrenia fall into three broad categories: positive symptoms, negative symptoms, and cognitive symptoms. Positive symptoms are psychotic behaviors not seen in healthy people. People with positive symptoms often "lose touch" with reality, these symptoms can come and go. Sometimes they are severe and at other times hardly noticeable, depending on whether the individual is receiving treatment. They include delusions, disordered thoughts and speech.
Negative symptoms commonly include flat or blunted affect and emotion, poverty of speech (alogia), inability to experience pleasure (anhedonia), lack of desire to form relationships (asociality), and lack of motivation (avolition).
Cognitive symptoms are subtle. Like negative symptoms, cognitive symptoms may be difficult to recognize as part of the disorder. Often, they are detected only when other tests are performed. Cognitive symptoms include the following: poor "executive functioning" (the ability to understand information and use it to make decisions), trouble focusing or paying attention, problems with "working memory" (the ability to use information immediately after learning it).
There are few distinguished causes for developing Schizophrenia such as genes and environment, different brain chemistry and structure, but usually it is a combination of both. Biological, genetic and prenatal factors are believed to create a vulnerability to schizophrenia. Additional environmental exposures (for example, frequent or ongoing social stress and/or isolation during childhood, drug abuse, etc.) then further increase the risk or trigger the onset of psychosis and schizophrenia. Early signs of schizophrenia risk include neurocognitive impairments, social anxiety (shyness) and isolation and "odd ideas".
Scientists have long known that schizophrenia runs in families. The illness occurs in 1 percent of the general population, but it occurs in 10 percent of people who have a first-degree relative with the disorder, such as a parent, brother, or sister. People who have second-degree relatives (aunts, uncles, grandparents, or cousins) with the disease also develop schizophrenia more often than the general population. The risk is highest for an identical twin of a person with schizophrenia. He or she has a 40 to 65 percent chance of developing the disorder. Scientists think interactions between genes and the environment are necessary for schizophrenia to develop.
Many environmental factors may be involved, such as exposure to viruses or malnutrition before birth, problems during birth, abusing dopamine affecting drugs and other not yet known psychosocial factors. A number of drugs have been associated with the development of schizophrenia, including cannabis, cocaine, and amphetamines. About half of those with schizophrenia use drugs and/or alcohol excessively. The role of cannabis could be causal, but other drugs may be used only as coping mechanisms to deal with depression, anxiety, boredom, and loneliness. Cannabis is associated with a dose-dependent increase in the risk of developing a